By C.C. Campbell-Rock
In an effort to be publicly heard, Take Em Down NOLA, the anti-white supremacy group that coalesced around the issue of removing Confederate monuments from public spaces in the city, today (Wednesday, May 16) held a press conference demanding that new Mayor LaToya Cantrell stop holding what TEDN leaders characterize as secret meetings with a commission comprised of members of the Monumental Task Committee (MTC), who argued against the removal of statutes and symbols that honored the Confederacy and supporters of white supremacy.
According to local media reports, the seven member Monument Relocation Committee, selected by Mayor Cantrell, has already recommended the Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard statues be placed in Greenwood Cemetery, near City Park Avenue and Interstate 10. And that Jefferson Davis statue move to his former estate in Biloxi, Miss., that is now a presidential library and museum.
After receiving no response from a letter to Mayor Cantrell asking for inclusion in the discussion of the fate of warehoused monuments honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee, CSA President Jefferson Davis, General PGT Beauregard, and the Liberty Monument, TEDN took its demands to the court of public opinion.
“We see this attempt to meet secretly with the forces behind maintaining the white supremacy monuments as an insult to TEDN and the Black community’s work in removing these monuments of oppression,” says TEDN organizer Malcolm Suber. “Moreover, Mayor Cantrell’s statement that she was meeting with those who were interested in the statutes shows that she was only interested in what the defenders of the statutes were interested in.”
“We are calling on the mayor to leave the decision about what to do with the removed statutes to a public process,” Suber added. “This concession to white supremacists is a big victory for their cause. She seems to be supporting the white supportive elements in her first few days in office.”
Also according to media reports, members of the Monument Relocation Committee include members of the Monumental Task Committee, Louisiana Landmarks Society, SaveNOLAHeritage.com, Beauregard Monument Association, Lee Monument Association. And two of the members were plaintiffs in legal procedures attempting to stop the city from removing the monuments. The seven-member panel has also declared that new members should not be added to the committee.
Take “Em Down NOLA is demanding that the Mayor endorse a proposed ordinance proposed to take down all symbols of white supremacy, including school names, statutes, and street names.
‘The Mayor needs to decide which side she is on. She claims to be a progressive but apparently the only people she is siding with are the rich whites who run this city.’
Some observers of the monument issue question the relevancy and impact of the confederate symbols on today’s New Orleans community and say there are more serious issues that should be addressed in the Black community.
“Certainly, the Monumental Task Committee people and Frank Stewart thinks this is important, otherwise they wouldn’t still be advocating for these symbols of white supremacy,” Suber responds. Indeed, Frank B. Stewart Jr. a billionaire and member of the group and Pierre A. McGraw, founder of the MTC have fought to keep what they called “works of art” in place. McGraw unsuccessfully sued the city while Stewart two out a two-page ad berating former Mayor Mitch Landrieu for supporting the removal of the white supremacy icons.
At press time, calls and emailed requests for comments from Mayor Cantrell and the Monumental Task Committee had not been answered.
“TEDN is also about ending economic disparities and building up the capacity of our people for a better day and better living conditions,” Suber concludes.